Lafayette, like many small cities in Colorado, holds the promise of providing green, inviting, and engaging outdoor spaces for its residents but falls short of its potential, especially for its lowest-income families. Youth living in Lafayette’s low-income neighborhoods lack nearby outdoor spaces, safe routes for foot and bike access to schools, playgrounds, and natural areas, and outdoor programming tailored to the unique strengths and needs of their community. Nature Kids/Jovenes de la Naturaleza Lafayette (NKJN) will support Lafayette’s low-income and Latino youth and their families. The collaborative design and implementation of this transformational program will provide both access to parks, trails, and open spaces as well as programming that will inspire underserved Lafayette youth to appreciate, enjoy, and take care of Colorado’s outdoors.
At the heart of the NKJN program is the community we hope to serve. Lafayette youth and their families played a lead role in the design of the NKJN program. More than 200 individuals of all ages participated in four distinct, age-group specific community engagement programs focused on reaching youth attending elementary, middle, and high school, and their parents. Moving forward, the community will maintain a leadership role in the development and implementation of a comprehensive set of capital construction projects, family programming, and youth programming, beginning with early childhood education and extending through leadership and employment opportunities in the outdoors for high school students. Programming as diverse as the community it will serve will empower Lafayette youth and families to build a strong and lasting connection to the outdoors.
NKJN will focus on reaching youth who attend five Boulder Valley School District schools: Sanchez, Pioneer, and Ryan Elementary Schools; Angevine Middle School; and Centaurus High School. There are 39 collaborating and supporting organizations that have signed on to help deliver a scaffolded approach to pre-K to high school, backyard to backcountry, and family-integrated nature and outdoor recreation programing. Programming will include classroom, afterschool, and field trip opportunities as well as summer opportunities that range from family programming to summer camps and employment opportunities. In addition to programming, there will be multiple capital construction projects on City of Lafayette Open Space and at Pioneer and Sanchez Elementary Schools that are designed to ensure all Lafayette youth live within a safe, 10-minute walk to a nature play space.